I chatted with Boro keeper Jason Steele recently on the VIP fan tours behind the scenes at the Riverside. Red carded at Leeds and then injured Boro’s no.1 has lost his place to first Shay Given and now Dimi Konstantopoulos. I asked him how he is coping with such a disappointing season.
Q: First of all how are you fitness wise?
JS: Yes good. I don’t know how long ago I had my operation now but I have been back training for a while and I feel good and strong.
Q: The season totally changed for you after Leeds.
Q: Did you pick up the injury straight after the game?
JS: No I picked up the injury against Charlton at the start of the season when I had to come off. And then I had a couple of injections and played through it. Obviously I got sent off against Leeds and then the week after that I felt it again. And decided to find out what was wrong with it. It was pretty nasty so the only option was to get a reconstruction of the ligament by a major operation.
Q: So basically you had no choice. You had to get it done.
JS: Yes. After Charlton we said we’ll wait to the end of the season if possible. But I felt it again and there was no other option but to do it.
Q: Going back to Leeds, there are always red cards there. You were last man and were trying to cover for a mistake in front of you.
JS: Yes. Daniel just tried to head it back to me and got it a bit heavy and in a split second you just make a decision. I decide to try and come out and obviously I cleaned the lad out instead of getting the ball. I thought he maybe didn’t have to send me off as he was never going to score from where he was. But he decided to send me off and the season pretty much finished from there.
Q: You’ve been sent off, you get an operation and everything has changed we have just got a new manager and goalkeeper coach.
JS: Yes yes well obviously it was my first game under the new manager so it is not ideal to get sent off and then coming back and needing an ankle operation straight away so he probably hadn’t seen much of me and then obviously you get back fit and you don’t play. But it is the first time I have been in this situation. You just have to keep your head down and work hard.
Q: Obviously Shay Given played pretty well, didn’t he?
Q: He brought a lot of experience to the squad didn’t he?
JS: Yes well he was always going to wasn’t he? As does Dimi. I get tarnished with the brush of being inexperienced but I think I am pretty experienced as well for my age.
Q: England Under 21s, Olympic squad..
JS: Yes. I’ve played a lot of football for someone of 23. So obviously he did pretty well for the team and I was pleased for the team.
Q: Were you able to train at all with Shay?
JS: No. I was injured.
Q: When Shay left there was a decision to be made as to who would be no.1. Was that a pressure situation with you all training together to get handed the gloves?
JS: Not really because I was still coming back from injury. I hadn’t played a game and was just trying to get fit and get sharp. You feel like you are getting there but it still takes a little while. I feel like I’m ready now.
Q: You have been on the bench haven’t you?
JS: Yes I have been on the bench for a few games now.
Q: And you have played for our Under 21s as well.
JS: Yes I have played a game for the Under 21s. I could have played the other day but I think having been in the position of being a young goalkeeper at the club it is more beneficial for the younger lads to play in the Under 21s than me really. I think I needed a game and I got the game. Having spoken to Jamie Clapham it was more beneficial for Joe Fryer to get a game rather than me wasting their game time. Their development is probably more important than me coming back and playing.
Q: There are a lot of keepers at the club at the moment.
Q: Is it good all training together? Are there four of you training?
JS: Yes there are the four of us Dimi, Tomas, Jayson and me. Obviously Connor is out on loan. There is Luke Coddington and Joe Fryer. So there is a healthy contingency.
Q: When you were training before were there ever so many of you in a group?
JS: No there was only really me, Dimi and Jayson. Obviously the manager brought Tomas in. Four now, it is very good.
Q: You have been watching from the sidelines but Dimi played well at Burnley didn’t he?
JS: Oh he had a very good game. Credit to him he has come in this team in the past few weeks and has done ever so well and is rightly the no.1.
Q: A couple of weeks ago we had that bottle top incident. That must be a goalkeeper’s worst nightmare.
JS: Yes it is terrible. I felt sick for him because it can happen to anyone not just at our level it happens at any level. It happens on a Sunday morning when I am with my friends. It is just one of them things and he dealt with it really well. The game after he did well.
Q: It was good that bottle top was actually seen on camera afterwards. There must have been incidents before where you knew you were blameless but it looks like your error.
JS: Yes I think so. Little deflections you don’t see but then you get the replays and you realise it was a deflection and there was not much you could do. It was a similar situation with Dimi the other week.
Q: You have now had a long spell out of the team is it just all about training as well as you can now?
JS: Yes well just keep training well. I’m obviously doing that because I am back in the squad. Tomas is training as well so I am obviously doing all right. You need to get the chance. The summer is nearly here now and the season nearly finished so just keep training hard.
Q: We have put a good run together in recent games. The confidence of the squad must have gone up.
JS: Yes without a shadow of a doubt. I think we’ve always been confident and very good ethic about the way we play. We work hard. But winning games breeds’ confidence and you can tell with all the lads in the games we’ve been wining that you probably don’t expect us to win before but the lads are buzzing at the minute and you never know what is going to happen, do you?
Q: Has it made a difference scoring goals as well because we have been doing so well defensively.
JS: Yes. As soon as the manager came in the first thing he did was sort the team out defensively. And now it doesn’t matter who we play in the team we are very defensively well organised. We look hard to beat.
Q: And now we have to keep it up over Easter.
JS: Exactly if we you the next four games you never know what will happen. Teams aren’t going to win every game left so you never know if you can take 12 points you put yourself in the frame.
Q: If you finish strongly it can help next season.
JS: You can take a bit of momentum into the next season hopefully as well. Obviously the manager will bring players in and players will leave. But as long as the club still has the feel good factor at the end of the season then we can only start well.